Chocolates have long been known for their “mood-booster” properties that can make your gloomy heart feel better. Dark chocolate, with its bitter taste are often picked as the ultimate remedy for terrible mood swings. And it works.
But did you know that dark chocolate has many more benefits?
The secret behind a delicious, healthy dark chocolate bar is cacao (which is also the source of the distinct taste). Cacao is rich in healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, making it a disease-killing bullet. Sounds fascinating, right?
Now let’s explore the health benefits hiding inside your favorite dark chocolate bars:
Chocolate is often looked down upon because it contains cocoa butter, which is high in saturated fat. But it turns out that the saturated fat in cocoa butter could actually be good for you. One-third of the fat in cocoa butter is stearic acid, which your liver converts to a healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. It can lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and boosts the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The anti-inflammatory compounds in cocoa help fight chronic vascular inflammation, improve flexibility in blood vessels, and reducing your blood pressure.
Eating antioxidant-rich chocolate leads to skin that’s smoother, less dried out, and more resistant to sunburn. The European Journal of Nutrition found that consistently eating cocoa for 12 weeks reduced moisture loss in skin by 25%. The other benefit is it can lead to fewer sunburn. Cocoa boosts blood circulation to the fine capillaries in the top layer of skin, vessels that are better equipped to draw oxygen and nutrients that protect skin against dehydration and burns.
Healthier teeth (wow!)
You may be shocked by this fact. “Chocolate can rot your teeth” is the concept we’ve been known since we were children. Yes, it is right, but it’s the sugar in chocolate candies that rots your teeth. Cocoa actually protects your teeth from decay. Cocoa bean husks contain antibacterial compounds that inhibit the formation of plaque and biofilms where cavity-causing bacteria can thrive. In a study of Indian children who hadn’t brushed in four days, a single rinse with a cocoa-based mouthwash reduced plaque by nearly 50 percent and killed 21 percent of bacteria.
Reduce cravings and weight
People tend to erase chocolate and candy bars from their diet plan. But, dark chocolate is actually more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than milk chocolate and white chocolate. Dark chocolate can lessen cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Researches from the Netherlands found that people who simply smelled 85% dark chocolate reported that their appetite levels dropped by up to half. Smelling dark chocolate stimulates production of an antihunger hormone called ghrelin, and the effect lingers for about an hour.
Sharper focus and higher intelligence
Magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that chocolate boosts blood circulation to the brain, which can improve your ability to focus. Taking a small amount of cocoa flavanols for five days led to better blood flow to the brain in healthy adults who are performing cognitive tasks. A research from Oxford University and Norway found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.
A research in Swiss found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially soothed. So next time you feel sorrow or you feel that the sky is falling apart, opt for dark chocolate instead of a pint of vanilla ice cream.
More effective workout
Chocolate helps to boost your pre-exercise energy levels, power you through a hard-sweat session, and cut down on post-workout soreness. Epicatechins and catechins in cocoa increase your muscle’s absorption of nutrients that create energy, which can help you get energized to workout.
It’s the time to change your snacks into guilt-free dark chocolate bars says chocoholic Fauziah Listyo Ayunani